Five Unusual Cruise Vacations

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When it comes to cruise vacations, one thing is clear: the cruise industry has truly found a niche in offering a variety of unconventional experiences. You won't believe the curious vacations available! From the North Pole to southern blues jazz, here are our top five picks for unusual cruise vacations!

#1 -- The North Pole: Fancy a trek to the North Pole? If so, consider the North Pole Expedition cruise which departs from Helsinki, Finland and takes as its course the Arctic Ocean en route to one of the "last ecologically intact wilderness sanctuaries on our planet."

A cruise for the true adventurer, an excursion through the polar ice cap is truly an experience of a lifetime -- and ticket prices begin at $19,200 per passenger (with a down-filled parka included for good measure.) Expedition Cruises has been specializing in Russian Arctic excursions since 2001 and provides a premier cruise experience on its ship -- considered the "the largest and most modern nuclear-powered icebreaker in the world."

Before you book your ticket, be sure to look into securing a Russian visa, as the ship is property of the Russian Federation and cruises in its territory.

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#2 -- Crafting: Are yarn, knitting needles, and spinning wheels with a healthy dose of creativity more your thing? CraftCruises offers cruises with global itineraries which offer the opportunity to indulge in crafting activities such as knitting, beading, spinning, needlepoint, and more.

Quality instructors offer single classes or intensive schedules which give you the opportunity to hone your skills at your own pace in a relaxing environment. Whether your destination is Hawaii, Norway, Bermuda, or China, going on one of these unique cruises will ensure that you bring home a great souvenir.

Should you find that one of CraftCruises' eight crafting cruise itineraries doesn't quite fit the bill for your next getaway, the company also welcomes ideas for new trips and will charter its ships and crew for your group. If you love the idea of exploring a new hobby or honing your expertise in a specific cruise but don't particularly enjoy sailing on the high seas, CraftCruises also holds land trips on an annual basis, which has all the appeal of its popular cruises but with the comfort and amenities of land travel. The next trip -- in August 2011 -- features travel through the Canadian Rockies by rail "on a classic rail car." Whatever your choice, you'll be sure to enjoy the opportunity to get away and relax with your favorite crafting hobbies!

#3 -- Blues Cruise: A perennially enjoyable cruise vacation typically consists of a cool drink, warm weather and great buffets. Blues Cruise offers this type of vacation, made extraordinary with the soundtrack of smooth blues jazz beats. Not just for musical aficionados of the genre, this cruise line's excursions offer appearances by renowned blues jazz musicians, pro jam sessions, and nightly performances, while additionally offering all of its passengers a "backstage pass" to participate in artist workshops, demos, autograph parties, and industry panels. The biannual cruise alternates between sailing through the Caribbean and Mexican Rivera, with a variety of headlining musicians and featured artists on each excursion.

Although the Blues Cruise Company offers a variety of musical acts, shore activities, theme nights, and on-board services, Blues Cruise is known for one thing -- attracting a community of blues jazz enthusiasts who maintain friendships long after the ship docks at its final destination. With gatherings at regional music clubs, an online forum, a social media presence, and a street team, Blues Cruise alumni clearly consider this cruise a gem amongst its competitors.

#4 -- Magic Cruise:For those to whom a trip away from home is an opportunity to create a little magic, a magic cruise offers the chance for magicians and magic enthusiasts alike to learn new tricks, enjoy performances, and partake in a variety of magic-themed entertainments spanning workshops, parties, and contests.

Departing from Long Beach, Calif., David Sandy's Magic Cruise certainly fits the bill if magic is your hobby of choice. Sandy himself has been coordinating music and magic productions for 30 years, and his Magic Cruise draws from his experience in the field with Vegas-style activities on a Carnival Splendor ship whose ports of call include three stops in Mexico -- Puerta Vallarta, Mazatalan, and Cabo San Lucas. The annual eight-day cruise rates span from $749 per person for an inside room cabin to $979 per person for a balcony cabin.

Kids are included as part of the magic as well, with an exclusive playroom on board and specially-designed entertainments for the toughest crowd of all! With all the fun of a magic convention on board a luxury cruise, this program is sure to be a favorite -- no illusion about it.

#5 -- Science and Technology Cruise: Are you fascinated by scientific development, planetary movement, computer technology and modern media? If so, vacations will never be the same after embarking on Crystal Cruises' Science and Technology Cruise. This cruise program -- offered on routes as varied as the West Indies, Mexican Riviera, and Panama Canal -- includes scholarly lectures, interaction with NASA scientists, and hands-on courses on topics such as computer training and foreign languages, coupled with all of the amenities of a traditional cruise.

After all, a lecture titled "Planetary Emergencies" is better when followed by an afternoon of deep-sea snorkeling. Crystal Cruise offers this particular program on three different cruises, with the first departing in March of 2011 from Miami, Florida. Five lecturers -- highly regarded professionals in their respective fields of nuclear strategy, scientific education, natural sciences, and space operations -- will be featured aboard on the 14 day cruise.

A variety of traditional on-board entertainments are also offered, with headlining entertainers, lounge pianists, comedians, and production shows creating a diverse lineup for nightly performances. The appeal of this cruise however, is in its sincere goal of offering passengers a chance to "navigate the vast and evolving world of science."

Fares begin at $4,490 for a stateroom, with a Crystal penthouse suite with verandah priced at $57,970. Special savings with air credits, special rates, and on-board spending certificates are available on a limited basis. All cruises set for the high seas on the 922-passenger Crystal Symphony, which boasts a casino, lap pool, Feng Shui inspired spa, full 360-degree teak deck and an expertly trained staff.